MARTA EQUITY ISSUES
6/13/05 Legislators Question MARTA on Finances by Julie B. Hairston - AJC Staff Writer
Continuing their aggressive probe of MARTA's financial management, Republican state legislative leaders conducted an extensive briefing with the transit system's top officials just days after the authority's $323.5 million budget for 2006 was approved. State Rep. Jill Chambers (R-Atlanta) questioned MARTA officials extensively Thursday about the agency's use of a federal tax shelter program discontinued last year. Under the program, widely used by transit systems nationwide before federal officials suspended it, assets such as rail lines and rail cars were leased to companies that could receive tax deductions from depreciating them.
6/13/05 Time to Bite Bullet on Transit By Maria Saporta AJC Writer
Nearly seven years ago, a high-powered panel of metro Atlanta business and government leaders called for creation of a single agency with the power to plan, fund and implement a regional transit system. Little has transpired since 1998 to support or expand public transit in the region, despite the creation of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. Quite the opposite. MARTA, which carries about 95 percent of all transit riders in the region, is cutting service while raising some of its fares when just the reverse should be taking place. And it's not just MARTA. The limited new bus services in the suburbs face the sunset of federal funds for operations. And there's still no plan or suggestion on how to generate operating funds for the region's public transit.
6/12/05 Regional Proposal Rips off MARTA by Terence Courtney - Atlanta Jobs With Justice for the AJC
he Atlanta Transit Riders Union and Atlanta Jobs With Justice oppose proposals to regionalize public transit planning, funding and operations. Such suggestions, floated by the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the Atlanta Regional Commission, would cut MARTA and MARTA's Fulton and DeKalb constituents out of the loop. That can't be right. When MARTA was set up, the city of Atlanta and Fulton and DeKalb counties approved a one-cent sales tax to fund it. Officials in outlying counties, holding the frankly racist view that public transit was "a black thing" and that accessible, affordable bus and rail transit throughout metro Atlanta was a threat, not a blessing, blocked the building of rail lines toward Cobb, Gwinnett or Clayton counties, and exempted their residents from MARTA's one-cent tax. While nobody, least of all present public officials, would express such backward views nowadays, Atlanta's current transit mess is directly traceable to decisions made in those bad old days.
5/31/05 Transit Backer, Legislator Get Aboard MARTA to Listen by Julie B. Hairston - AJC Staff Writer
One recent sunny afternoon, community advocate Terence Courtney heads west on a MARTA train from the Five Points station.
He leaves the train at the Hamilton E. Holmes station at the end of the west line where, armed with fliers inviting people to attend a transit riders' meeting in June, he transfers to MARTA's bus Route 61. The bus is filled with people, and its seats and floors are wet after running with open windows through spray from a fire hydrant. Route 61 is among the lines MARTA proposes to cut next year as it struggles to close a predicted $18 million gap between its spending and its income.
1/1/2002 MARTA'S Service Cuts Could Spell Doom for Many by Dr. Robert D. Bullard
Hundreds of transit riders packed the Atlanta City Hall chamber a little over a week ago to voice their opposition to MARTA's latest budget crisis "fix." Speaker after speaker expressed outrage over MARTA's plan to cut service. The most gripping testimony came from low-income, transit dependent, disabled, and elderly MARTA customers who view MARTA as a necessity, not a luxury. Several elected officials even questioned MARTA sensitivity and sincerity.
11/30/2001 CIVIL ACTION SUIT FILED AGAINST MARTA
Attorneys for the Disability Law and Policy Center of Georgia, Inc. filed a civil action suit against MARTA. The lawsuit filed is the first formal action against Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations. Represented by attorneys for the nonprofit Disability Law and Policy Center and cooperating counsel from the Decatur law firm Hill, Lord and Beasley, the six plaintiffs in the class action suit allege consistent, blatant discrimination against MARTA riders with disabilities. More specifically, the suit alleges noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which provide a specific set of guidelines for public transportation systems serving people with disabilities. For more information on this civil suit please click HERE.
5/31/2001 "All MARTA Stops are Not Created Equal"
A recent unscientific AJC Horizon survey indicates that riders rate MARTA stops from "arty" to "dingy." To view the AJC article click HERE. Atlanta's minority riders have been saying this for years. This past winter, a coalition of civil rights groups filed a Title VI administrative complaint with the US Department of Transportation charging MARTA with discrimination in delivery of transit services to its minority communities. Click HERE to view the complaint.
3/1/2001 HOW'S MARTA DOING?
Residents with opinions about MARTA services in south Fulton are invited to a meeting in Union City on March 8 at City Hall.
The meeting is sponsored by MARTA, Union City and the South Fulton Chamber of Commerce. The meeting will allow people to discuss bus and rail services in the area. MARTA also will have on display several vehicles, including a compressed natural gas bus and a paratransit L-van. People who cannot attend can call 404-848-5666 or write to MARTA, manager of community relations, 2424 Piedmont Road N.E., Atlanta, GA 30324-3330 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 404-848-4179. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at 5047 Union St.
2/28/2001 Moving Art Rapidly Through Atlanta (MARTA)
For years, MARTA's loyal passengers have been saying "all MARTA stations are not created equal." AJC writer Martha Ezzard makes the case in her recent "Moving Art" article. She contrasts the glistening new Sandy Springs station with that of MARTA's other drab stations. She makes the point better than any low-income transit dependent riders who day in and day out endure the blank or colorless walls of MARTA train stations. MARTA's $464 million new Sandy Springs station "soothes riders starting a trip into the city, or calling it a day," writes Ezzard. This contrasts with the Five Points stations "which can make a gray day grayer. No Color. Little light. Lots of litter," according to Ezzard. Station comparisons and apparent disparities do no stop at who gets art and who does not. These disparities also extend to basic services. This past November, a coalition of eleven civil rights, environmental, church, youth, neighborhood, and labor organizations filed an administrative complaint [click here for a summary of the complaint] against MARTA charging it with discrimination against its minority customers and noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
2/13/2001 MARTA Spends $700,000 to Change Its Image
The Metropolitan Atlanta Transit Authority or MARTA plans to spend $700,000 on a marketing campaign to change is "image." (see AJC article "MARTA Examines Its Image Problem") ) This public relations campaign comes on the heals of a major fare increase. The one-way cash fare jumped from $1.50 to $1.75 (a near 17 percent increase)-making it the highest one-way fare in the nation. One does not have be a rocket scientist to know that raising fares is not a MARTA image booster. Many MARTA riders and local community groups have offered the agency free advise at its board meetings and in a recent discrimination complaint (click here for a summary of the complaint). They say MARTA can improve its image by improving service and lowering the fares. In short, many Atlantans are telling MARTA, its not about image, it's about service.
When the agency was conceived and created three decades ago, many whites jokingly referred to MARTA as "Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta." Some locals have suggested a new image of "Moving Art Rapidly Thru Atlanta." Others have suggested knocking two letters off the MARTA seal-- and making it either the Rapid Transit Authority (RTA) or Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). In reality, MARTA's service area is limited to Fulton and DeKalb Counties. It was originally conceived to cover five counties (Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Clayton, and Gwinnett). Only Fulton and DeKalb residents voted to join MARTA and pay the one-cent sales tax. Suburban counties surrounding Atlanta (Cobb, Gwinnett, and Clayton) created or are currently in the process of creating their own separate bus systems. Nevertheless, nearly a fifth of MARTA riders live outside the MARTA Fulton-DeKalb County service area. The number of MARTA riders who live outside the service area (and who are not part of the MARTA taxing district) is expected to increase with the new Sandy Springs and North Springs stations and as MARTA extends it rail lines out to the Fulton, DeKalb, and Clayton County lines.
1/25/2001 The Life and Death of a Black Disabled Transit Activist: An Interview with Horace Kilgore
12/1/2000 Atlanta's Transit Agency Hit with Discrimination Complaint Click HERE to read the complaint
The MATEC organizations charged MARTA with racial discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They also cite MARTA for failing to comply with the federally mandated Americans with Disability Act (ADA).
12/1/2000 MARTA Taps Black to Head Transit Agency
On Thursday, the Metropolitan Atlanta Transit Authority (MARTA) board voted on its top three candidates for general manager. All three candidates are African American: Nathaniel Ford (Executive Vice President of Operations at MARTA); Robert Prince (GM at Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority), and Gordon Linton (former head of the Federal Transit Administration). The MARTA board selected Nathaniel Ford to run the $300 million transit agency.
9/19/2000 Is MARTA Ready for A Black General Manager?
6/20/2000 MARTA Fares Become Most Expensive in Nation
Citizens of Atlanta, Fulton, and DeKalb have invested 25 years in a one-cent sales tax in building the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority or MARTA, the eighth largest transit system in the nation. On Monday, the MARTA board approved a $307 million operating budget that raises its one-way cash fare from $1.50 to $1.75-a 17 percent increase. MARTA's existing $1.50 cash fare is the second highest of all major U.S. urban transit operators. Atlantans now pay more to ride public transit than such high cost cities as Los Angeles-where a civil rights lawsuit by the Bus Riders Union successfully beat back a fare hike. The one-way cash fare in Los Angeles is only $1.35. Moving to a $1.75 one way cash fare will make MARTA the most expensive transit ride in the nation. Considering cost of living, MARTA's cash fare was already the highest in the nation. Since the 15¢ fare ended in 1979, MARTA's adult cash fare has increased ten-fold. Factoring in cost of living changes, it has increased over 300%.
6/16/2000 Groups Turn out to Block MARTA Fare Hike
More than 70 neighborhood associations, civic clubs, civil rights groups, environmental organizations, and elected officials attended a community briefing on Wednesday, to learn about the impact that a proposed fare hike would have on MARTA's poor, transit dependent, and people of color riders.The Wednesday evening briefing was held at the Environmental Justice Resource Center on the campus of Clark Atlanta University.
6/13/2000 EJRC Hosts Community and Press Briefing on MARTA Fare Hike
The Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University will hold a Community and Press Briefing on Wednesday June 14th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm to present its findings on the proposed MARTA fare hike. The briefing will be held in Room # 1036 in the Science Research Building at Clark Atlanta University (223 James P. Brawley Drive). The objectives of the briefings are fourfold: (1) to inform the public on why a MARTA fare increase is not required and is not needed in FY01 and FY02; (2) to set the record straight on MARTA's legal mandate re its fare structure and operating costs, i.e., the 35% and 50% test, (3) to present the findings of the center's independent analysis of the MARTA budget structure; and (4) to explore next steps and possible options available to the community groups in light of the upcoming MARTA board vote to be taken on Monday June 19th.
5/26/2000 MARTA Urged to Scrap Fare Hike Proposal
The long-awaited vote on the fare increase failed to pass the MARTA board Thursday by one vote. The meeting room, held at MARTA headquarters, was filled with customers whose yellow signs urged the board to "Vote No" on the fare hike. "The five Board members who voted against the proposed fare increases are applauded for allowing for more equitable solutions to be considered. We hope the recommendations we have made are given serious consideration after the board action on Thursday," said Sherrill Marcus, a member of the Metropolitan Atlanta Transportation Equity Coalition.
5/9/2000 South DeKalb Leaders Host Transportation Town Hall Meeting -- Concerned about Atlanta's growing transportation dilemma and the potential negative impact on the African American community, residents from South DeKalb came out for a town hall meeting. The meeting, held at Georgia Perimeter College &endash; South Campus, was organized and chaired by State Senator Connie Stokes and Representative Henrietta Turnquest.
5/2/2000 MARTA Pushing Fares to Become Most Expensive in the Nation
ATLANTA, GA, May 2, 2000-The Environmental Justice Resource Center (EJRC) at Clark Atlanta University issued a preliminary report of MARTA's proposed fare increase. A public hearing is scheduled May 3, 2000 to discuss MARTA's proposal to raise one-way cash fares from $1.50 to $1.75, a 16.7 percent increase. The proposal also calls for increasing the weekly transit pass from $12 to $13 (a 8.3 percent increase). Monthly passes would jump from $45 to $52.50 (a 16.7 percent increase) and half-price senior citizens cash fare would increase from 75 cents to 85 cents (an 13.3 percent increase).
2/24/2000 Fact Sheet on Transportation Equity
2/23/2000 Black History Month Premiere of New Documentary on Transit Racism: Bus Riders Union a film by Academy Award cinematographer Haskell Wexler.
2/15/2000 Press and Community Briefing on Transportation Equity
2/14/2000 Atlanta Coalition Back from Los Angeles Transportation Racism Fact-Finding Tour
A delegation from the newly-formed Metropolitan Atlanta Transportation Equity Coalition or MATEC went on a transportation racism fact-finding visit to Los Angeles.